History announced today that the network has green-lighted production of a new four-hour scripted miniseries, Houdini, slated to start production this fall. Starring Academy Award winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) as the ace magician and Kristen Connolly (House of Cards, The Cabin in the Woods) as his wife Bess, the miniseries will trace the arc of Houdini's life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame and will be co-produced for History by Lionsgate and A+E Studios.
Before David Blaine and David Copperfield, there was one man whose name was synonymous with being the master of illusion and escape - Harry Houdini. Houdini follows the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin. The drama will chronicle the life of a man who can defy death through his stunts, his visions and his mastery of illusion.
Here's what History's General Manager Dirk Hoogstra had to say about the project in a statement.
"It's not magic that History has established a strong track record with its high-quality historical dramas from quality auspices. We're excited to build on that tremendous momentum with Houdini. The Great Harry Houdini is a fascinating man in history and I have no doubt that Adrien Brody will bring the magician's riveting story to life for our audience."
Lionsgate Television Group President Kevin L. Beggs released his own statement.
"It's exciting to be working with History, Adrien and our extraordinary creative and producing partners on Houdini. We're also delighted to be expanding Lionsgate's overall relationship with A+E Networks."
Actor Adrien Brody released a statement about how the magician was one of his childhood heroes.
"Since my childhood, when I dreamed of being a great magician, Harry Houdini has been one of my heroes. His bravery and obsessive determination still fascinate me. Houdini mastered the art of escape - not only from physical chains, but from poverty and the social constraints of a humble immigrant origin. His life story appeals to the universal longing for acceptance with which we all can identify. To portray him is beyond an honor."
Gerald W. Abrams (Nuremberg, Family of Spies) and Andras Hamori (Sunshine) will serve as executive producers of Houdini. Academy Award nominated Nicholas Meyer (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution) is writer and Academy Award nominated director Uli Edel (The Baader Meinhof Complex) will helm HOUDINI. Academy Award winning veteran Patrizia von Brandenstein (Amadeus) is production designer and Karl Walter Lindenlaub, whose work ranges from American blockbusters (Independence Day) to award-winning art house movies (Black Book) is cinematographer. Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs are Executives in Charge of Production for History.